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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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scale and specialization can be expected to be forthcoming chiefly in the modern sector of the economy, the expansion of which depends on the rate of capital accumulation and on the composition of demand as determined by income per head, rather than on the rate of population growth per se.
Measuring the Effects of Lowered Fertility. On balance the counterarguments seem to subtract little from the validity of the points that assign a positive economic role to the changes in age composition and population growth consequent upon a decline of fertility. But what is the quantative significance of these effects? A widely quoted estimate (1, p. 280) sets the relative gains in income per capita (adjusted for age distribution) resulting from a 50 percent linear reduction of fertility occurring over a period of 25 years in the Indian setting at about 15 percent after 20 years following the onset of fertility decline and at about 40 percent after 30 years, the difference increasing rapidly afterwards. Thus the short-term gains, while appreciable, would appear to be far from spectacular. Accepting the formal logic of the model on which such calculations are based and accepting as plausible the usually suggested range of the relevant parameter values, it can be effectively argued that the gains attributed to declining fertility could be achieved by a number of alternative means, such as a slightly higher saving-investment rate or slight improvements in labor productivity and/or in the efficiency of using capital (14, 15). Alternatively it may be suggested that the relatively modest results are a consequence of a less than complete exploration of the plausible ranges and combinations of the parameter values that may be relevant (16).
It appears, therefore, that the identification and quantification of the economic effects resulting from a decline of fertility from high levels remains in a less than satisfactory state and that a considerable amount of additional empirical work will be required before the divergences in expert opinion can be expected to be substantially narrowed. More fundamentally, the question is whether the main thrust of future research should continue to be centered on the problems that have dominated the recent debates or whether at least some reorientation of thought and change in emphasis is required. The following four points outline some of these questions.
Reorienting Research toward the Long Run. First, the emphasis that has been given to short-term considerations appears to have been disproportionately strong, in particular to some tangible benefits affecting government expenditures that are attributable to the emergence of low dependency ratios. Perhaps a not always conscious orientation toward policymaking and the implicit assumption that such orientation depends on the analyst's ability to identify quantifiable short-term effects have influenced the research efforts in this field. This emphasis on the short-term becomes explicit in calculations in which the gains from a fertility decline are obtained by aggregating present